Monthly Archives: March 2018

Sometimes Writing is like Needlepoint

Or maybe building with Lego. One dropped stitch, one missed brick, and the whole thing doesn’t quite work. It might be close, it might be passable, but once you’ve seen the error, it’s all you can see. There are a lot of good threads in my Bear Ridge story but I seem to have dropped a stitch somewhere. It’s not so bad that I have to start from scratch, just that I have to change direction, just a little bit, which requires that I go back to the beginning. I just happen to have some of the needles already threaded this time.

For the time being, the story does now have a proper working title, Christmas in Bear Ridge. But I know me and the odds are good that there will end up being a different title before the end of things. But for now, Stack to my Bory. My computer has yet to figure out how to type while I’m dreaming so, by hand it must be done!

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Writing Wednesday – Prep Work

I sometimes forget how much I love learning new things. For me, one of the best parts of digging into writing a new story in a new universe is the research. It gives me an excuse to learn more about various mythologies I haven’t delved into much yet or a certain style of architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy planting tiny details that not everyone is going to notice but the ones that do see the roses I’ve planted in the middle of my labyrinth – it’s perfectly interesting without that but a nice touch if you happen across it.

I was talking about those little details the other day and my husband gave me a funny look and asked me exactly who I’m writing these stories for. The secret is that I really write for myself. I write the stories I’d like to read. I think there are other readers out there who like the same kind of stories as I do, the same touches I do. I love coming across interesting little tidbits of information in a story I’m reading and I know I’m not the only writer that likes that sort of thing so, while I do write for me, I write for readers like me who enjoy the little things as well as the big picture things.

It honestly does not matter to the story if people notice how the types flowers in the background have a story to tell in their language, but for the people who do notice, it might be a nice touch. However, the walls and the curtains have no deeper meaning beyond the fact that I happen to like blues and grays and purples. I’m not playing to emotion there, just designing the room in a way that my interior designer mother would not have admonished me for. I don’t think I’ve ever actually met a writer who does that. I do wish I could find all of my old English teachers and let them know that.

When I’m reading, nothing throws me out of a story faster than facts that are actually wrong or things that are completely illogical. I don’t mean like magic is illogical, I mean like a thing that is glaringly missing, a step everyone knows in a process getting skipped. I can forgive a lot of slights of hand in a story, glossing over the inconvenient truth of a thing as it doesn’t fit the mechanics of a story but sometimes you come to one that is just too big for forgiving. I can forgive messing with science to make magic fit, I cannot forgive explaining physics wrong to make a bit of bad engine design work – and that’s with my very very limited knowledge of physics. If I know it’s wrong, everyone knows it’s wrong.

I know not everyone loves research, some find it to be drudgery. Not me. I can lose myself in encyclopedias, Wikipedia, old reference books, new reference engines, for days. Let me learn about canopic jars or Mesopotamian burial rituals or herbal elements of ancient face creams. I might not be very good at peopling or crowds but I really find people, humanity, incredibly interesting and inventive. I will always want to know more.

Just so you know, I have not yet written a story that utilizes the language of flowers, but I’m totally going to one day. It’s my new goal. I can’t quite make it work in my witchy Christmas story I’m working on because winter but someday, I’ll find the right story for it!

 

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Happenings and almost news

I have an exciting thing that will hopefully, all things going well, come out just in time for Christmas this year. The idea is pretty fleshed out in my head – the town was already there, some of the players too, it was just waiting for the right call, the right nudge. So, everything cooperating, I’ll have a witchy magic town Christmas romance available this year. I’m having a horrible time with a title though and that’s unusual for me. With most projects, the title comes really easy and maybe it will by the time I finish the zero draft up. Hunter’s Hell is now my backburner project for a few weeks while that zero draft is hammering out. Gods of the Fallen is being put on hold for a bit. The funny thing is I had just been playing around with ideas for Eldercynne Knight before this hit. Too many projects, not enough time, not enough spoons.

For the time being, the tag will be for Bear Ridge but that won’t be the title. Right now, all the titles I have mulled are already out there, come straight from songs, or have nothing to do with the story. I can’t really title it witchy-ish magic town Christmas romance, can I?

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Review: You Always Have Me

You Always Have Me by Sherell Cummings

You Always Have Me
By: Sherell Cummings
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: YA/ Romance

This book is very well written. Cummings is an author I will definitely read again. This story is about a girl, Kale, who has had a pretty rough life so far, abandoned by her mother, treated horribly by her father, and the only light in her life, her best friend Wyatt had to move away. When Wyatt returns, it’s not exactly smooth sailing but it sure as hell beats the alternative.

There are some ups and downs, flashbacks and memories that help explain who Kale and Wyatt are separately and together. There is one place that is a little hard to read, emotionally, but you can see it coming and it’s pretty easy to skim if you need to.

It’s a journey of discovery as a girl who had to grow up too fast finally gets to experience some of the lighter, fun side of life. You can’t help but root for them, even as you wait for the other shoe to drop. And drop it does but not in the way you’d expect at all.

Overall, a well-written fun read with a few moments that might give one pause but doesn’t take away from the overall story. There is a little too much deus ex machina for me but the case of the missing passport was really the only big hiccup for me and that’s not bad!

4/5 – worth the read and the hiccups are just minor things.

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Writer Wednesday – Origin Stories

And I’m not talking about character origins either. I’m sure every writer had a moment of revelation in which they knew that writing was their thing. Whether it was a book or meeting another writer or whatever. I was an odd duck in that I’ve known pretty much since forever that words were my thing, whether they were in stories or poems. The first one I have for sure was a poem I dictated to my grandmother when I was three. It was about my cat. It isn’t good, unless you acknowledge it was created by a three-year-old. The first story I know for sure was in first grade, though I’m certain I was telling them, playing them, and making them up since forever as that’s what I do when I’m bored.

There was, however, a moment when I fully realized it was a thing I could actually do. Like for a job. Picture it, Boston 1988, I was just barely 9 years old, fresh from reading Narnia, all of the Little House books, Caddie Woodlawn, and A Wrinkle in Time. I was 3000 miles from home, touring around New England with my grandparents during the very hot but amazing summer. We were touching on all things Revolutionary War (I was enthralled at the time) and we ended up in Concord. Do you know what happens to be in Concord? Louisa May Alcott’s house. There was a woman who made her living writing in a time when women were very much less than. She didn’t have a hundred women’s names staring at her from the spines on her bookshelf, she had maybe a handful. And yet, she did it anyway. Not only did she write but her work is still read, still celebrated. Standing in that house, where she lived, where she worked, I realized writing was a thing I could really do and it wasn’t just like my little whispered wish about being a ballerina (dude, this lady has never had any grace, ballerina was never more than a pipe dream and I knew that even at 3 or 4 when I started). Writing was suddenly a very real option. My poor grandmother. She had such high hopes for me.

As it happened, that trip also was my first time in Salem, the House of Seven Gables, and Hammond Castle (yeah, she doesn’t necessarily think my profession of choice is the greatest for me but she sure did encourage it, didn’t she?). My grave-rubbings from that trip were lost in my next move but they were amazing (I still have pictures of the gravestones though) and, because my pap was a funeral director and apparently, they all know each other by sight somehow, I got to see the horse drawn hearse that carried both Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne to their final resting places. It was one of those things that might not matter to anyone else but I will never forget as long as I live.

I’m not where I want to be just yet. No one is going to make a museum of my childhood home just yet (and really, which one would they pick? I had far too many). Maybe someday.

Whatever your job/career is, what was your moment? When did you know you could do a thing, be a thing, or even wanted to?

 

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Doing it Anyway

This last year has really been all about learning to do things anyway – even when I’m sad, anxious, or hurting. Writing even though I’m not as fast anymore and get distracted easily. Doing the errands even if various joints are being stupid. I admit, I’m getting pretty damn jealous of all the people who can just walk all the places and not wind up with yet another swollen hurty bit. I understand some of my friends with various chronic diseases a lot better now and I am bowing to their example and expertise a lot. One particular lady is everything I want to grow up to be – I’ll always be a huge fan of hers – she especially rocks the art of doing it anyway.

It is a really hard adjustment to do it anyway. I’m getting there with the writing, even if this post is pretty much the only writing I’ll do today. It’s harder with the other stuff. Right now, I’ve got my feet up with an ice pack on my ankle hoping for some relief and I’m not really finding it. If anything, it’s sort of making it even more uncomfortable. Today was also leech day – where I go get all my blood let for science (and to make sure all my levels are good *fingers crossed my sed rate is finally going down*) and I forgot to take the bandage off – something about their bandages and my skin do not get along. I have a red splotchy place everywhere the adhesive touched my skin. But, I was hydrated enough to make the stick easy and it doesn’t look like I’m even going to bruise this month which is super yay. I never thought I would ever get used to being stuck in the arm every month without even a pretty picture to show for it but, there you go.

Honestly, I’ve done really well keeping the writing going. I’m at very nearly 17k words for the month and I’m super proud of myself. I’ll be even more proud if somehow I can beat my February totals. This past week was my busiest week with life stuff though so hopefully, next week I’ll do a lot more getting stuff done. After the first part of the week anyway. I have a very important lunch date with an old friend I haven’t seen in a really really long time. Pretty sure since before I had kids. I’m very much looking forward to playing catch up.

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Writer Wednesday: Sherell Cummings

Today, I’m going to bring you a little bit about a fellow Boroughs author who has a brand new book out! Personally, it looks like a fun read.

You Always Have Me by Sherell Cummings

IS HOPE ENOUGH

 

High school junior Kale Montgomery is stuck with a father who hates her, a mother who left her, and a town that pities her. Getting out of this life seems impossible, and yet she knows staying is the fastest way to rot [or lose] her soul.

When Wyatt McCade, her childhood best friend who’s now grown into a chiseled and devastatingly handsome twenty-one-year-old, comes back into town, Kale dares to hope again. Hope for a future with love, happiness, and endless possibilities.

Embarking on a cross-country road trip, Kale and Wyatt discover life apart from each other was never much of a life at all. They’re ready for their happy ending. But, what’s love that isn’t tested? When a secret about Wyatt is revealed that could change their entire future, Kale’s forced to find out if hope is her savior, or if it’s actually the most dangerous thing of all.

Smashwords
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes And Noble

Boroughs Publishing Group

 

 

 

Sherell Cummings

Sherell Cummings is an IT Technician whose mind is consumed with what to write next. She and her fiancé, Jude, and their two children live on the island of Trinidad and Tobago and when she’s not reading or trying to find time to write, she’s at work doing the regular nine to five.

Find her and follow her on all the sites:

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Goodreads

 

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Time Change

The clocks have been changed and I’ve given up my hour to whatever powers decided this was a thing we still need to do. I understand changing the time for agricultural purposes but times and technology have changed and it’s not really a thing we need to keep doing. As a mom with a kid who is entirely rigid with his time and schedule, I hate time changes – it throws everything off for like a week. It did, however, get me thinking a little bit (I know, everything does that).

Time is a weird thing. For some things, it’s like no time has passed at all. For others, it feels like an eternity has passed when it’s been no time at all. I saw today that it’s been 8 years since Cory Haim died – that doesn’t seem right. It can’t have been that long. Later this month, I’ll have been married for 18 years which falls into both categories – I barely remember a time when my husband wasn’t in my life and it seems like just yesterday that I looked at him and saw forever. I swear to you that my kids were just babies and I’m still closer to 20 than 40 but also, I’ve been here since time immemorial.

Last night I was catching up with an old friend who I haven’t seen in ages but it didn’t actually seem that long. I think my sense of time’s passage is skewed. I don’t feel any different now than I did twenty years ago – except an extra lot of pounds and an immune system who loves me so much she’s trying to kill me. I might have gotten a smidge dorkier if only because I’ve had time to take in more of all the things I love.

Unfortunately, time is fleeting and I have no TARDIS or Delorean so, we must make due with what we’ve got and make the most of it. I hope I’m doing that and often worry that I’m not but, all I can do is my best and hope that’s enough.

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Writing Wednesdays – Idols

For me, there is a difference between storytelling and writing. Some authors are excellent storytellers, others are excellent writers, and some are both. I am not a fan of JK Rowling’s writing style but she is one of my favorite storytellers. The same can be said of Lovecraft – but I think some of that is situational, given his contemporaries. I can’t think of writers who write better than their stories would allow off the top of my head because, for me, the story is the more important part but I know I’ve thought it while reading.

There are a lot of writers I’d like to grow up to be like. Gibson, Dick, King, Roberts, Arakawa, Harris. I could go on forever actually – I really love books and writers. Of all of them though, I think Harris and Gibson are probably the most balanced between storyteller and writer. I’m not saying the others are bad writers, they aren’t by any stretch, but I think for me, they’re storytelling skills are stronger.

When I think about my all-time favorite stories, whether because of skill or plot, the one thing they have in common are well written, complete characters. Hannibal Lecter is far and above my favorite villain – he is the most fully realized villain, he’s wicked, wicked smart, crafty, seriously broken, and deliciously horrible. And if you get to the end of his story, all that he does, all that he is, makes sense. And Harris makes it all make sense without once excusing any of it. Hannibal is absolutely a terrible person, even if it makes sense why he might be, it isn’t used to negate his evil. That’s a talent.

I think villains speak to me a little more loudly than heroes. Yes, I love Dallas, Charlie, the Elric brothers, Case and Molly, but they just don’t resonate with me quite as much. I think it’s more that a good villain is so hard to find, relatively speaking. It’s hard to write broken and evil and irredeemable and still have people care one whit about them. Good villains are charismatic, unapologetic, and understandable.

Good characters and good writing aside, one can be a passable writer and still succeed, if the story is strong enough. They say there is only a finite number of stories one can tell and, that may be true, but there are infinite ways of telling that story. Don’t look at whether or not something has been done before – a case can nearly always be made that it has – focus on writing your version of that story in a way no one else can.

How many stories about kids going to magical schools are there? Harry Potter, Ms. Peregrin, the Magicians, and there are probably a solid hundred more out there. Write another one, make it yours, make it amazing. Hidden realms are everywhere – including my own books. Monster hunters, chosen ones, witches, wizards, nothing is off limits.

Apparently, I’m having a scatterbrained sort of writing day – I’d meant this post to be entirely about writers I want to grow up to be and I completely veered off topic. I’m letting it stay that way because I don’t think another pass at it would make it better.

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Teachers Matter – Part Two

We’re several days into the Teacher’s strike or work stoppage or whatever you want to call it. I have so many words to say about the subject – most of them are cursey, yelly words directed at the State Senate. I’ve made my position on education quite clear over the years and it will never change. Education is incredibly important. Not all education comes from books or classrooms and right now, we are all getting a hell of a lesson in how government works and how easy it really is to shove a stone in the cogs and bring everything grinding to a halt.

I absolutely stand behind our teachers. WV has one of the lowest pay scales, is 45th in education, and currently has a teacher shortage in the hundreds. There are hundreds of vacant positions, hundreds of teachers who are desperately needed but no one will fill them. Why won’t teachers come to West Virginia? See that pesky pay scale thing. Why are teachers leaving in droves? Again, see that pesky pay scale thing. That is all before we throw in the insurance issue which is ultimately what this whole kerfluffle is about when you boil the numbers down. It’s so bad here, they’re discussing lowering the requirements for teachers. How can we compete nationally when we can’t get teachers in our classrooms?

The State Senate is holding every child, every parent, every teacher hostage and they will likely never suffer any consequence for it. It’s a game, a power play, and it isn’t fair. Not to the teachers, not to the kids, and not to the parents. We haven’t seen the end of this, not until the Committees have met, discussed, brought the right bill to the vote and actually passed it and the Governor has signed it. Then we’ll get back to normal. Then we can look to the future and hopefully start filling those vacancies and bringing up that 45 number.

There are a number of people where I’m at who are floating a petition so the kids don’t have to make up the time in June. I disagree with that personally. I think our kids deserve to learn those days worth of stuff. I’ve got a kid who needs to take his SATs and AP tests so we can start looking at colleges for him – maybe he doesn’t need those days, those lessons, those discussions, but maybe he does, maybe his friends do. Some people might think that’s punishing our kids, making them go into June but it isn’t. It’s investing in their future. There are plenty of places where kids are in school to mid-June. You want to keep your summer plans, call the Senators, call your Representatives and tell them. Get angry at the people who are really holding everyone hostage by dickering around and trying their level best to destabilize our public school system. It might not be perfect, it might need a lot of work, but it’s better than the alternative.

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